Walking in the Holy Land was life changing. Angie and I thank you for your prayers and support. I’ll say this again with sincerity and gratitude; our church family is the best! As we walked the terrain in the Holy Land, the Lord stirred our hearts and spirits to love Him and you more.
- Learn to live free, not in fear. As we prepared to leave for Israel, a common question was, and a legitimate one at that, “Are you afraid?” Israel is often in the news for bombs and violence. However, we felt safe at all times. In Israel, and in our country, too, it’s wise to use common sense and good judgment. Overall, the Lord has called us to live free, not in fear.
- Live in community, not in isolation. Privacy is healthy and needed at times. Jesus practiced solitude in the early morning hours (Mk. 1:35). However, He invested a considerable amount of time with people. God created you and me for community. Let’s thank the Lord for people who build us up, draw us closer to the Lord, and help us see life through God’s eyes.
- Strive to be a giver, not a taker. Jesus gave His life for people. He said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). As I stood at The Place of the Skull, the Lord convicted me about giving. Many people in our world are takers. However, the Lord calls His followers to be givers. One of the greatest treasures you and I can give someone is our time, not money or possessions.
- Invest in people, not simply in programs. Programs are important and have their place in church life. Jesus invested in people, not simply in programs. I stood beside the Sea of Galilee and remembered the many people Jesus called and invested His life in. I thank God for the many people who invested their lives in me. In return, I desire to live and invest in others. One way to lay up treasures in Heaven is to invest in people.
- Proclaim the Gospel, not a religion. Religion is a big deal in Israel. It’s possible to be religious and lack a relationship with the Lord. Assurance of Heaven is based on a relationship, not in a religion (Jn. 14:6). People without Christ need to hear the Gospel, not the rules and regulations of a religion. Jesus sets people free and raises dead people to life.
- Leave behind a legacy, not merely stuff. As I walked in many places that Jesus walked, the Spirit touched my heart by Jesus’ leadership and ministry. He never possessed lots of stuff. Jesus’ legacy “shouts” quality time, unconditional love, and spiritual surrender. Angie and I prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and always obey the Father’s will. My life will never be the same because of the way Jesus lived His life.
- Study the Word, not ignore it. Spending time in the Holy Land revealed the importance of knowing God’s Word. Every believer faces temptation. As I looked at the Mount of Temptation outside of Jericho, I confessed my need to study God’s Word. Jesus used the Word to defeat the enemy. It’s spiritually unwise to handle temptation the world’s way. Overcoming temptation God’s way calls for His followers to know and use the Word.
- Pursue a humble spirit, not an arrogant attitude. Jesus served with a spirit of humility. He washed the dirty and crusty feet of His disciples. It’s true that our Lord was steadfast and firm. However, He was never arrogant. Arrogance and pride have no place in the Christian life. I talked with a Christian leader in Israel about the dangers of arrogance in ministry. Jesus loved, healed, and embraced people with a humble and compassionate spirit. May you and I follow His divine example!
- Slow down the pace of life, not speed up. In Jesus’ day, people didn’t drive cars, didn’t have smartphones, and didn’t have Internet access. I sense the pace of their lives would have been slower than ours. In no way do I believe life in Jesus’ day would have been easy. In fact, I was amazed to see visually the distance Jesus travelled by foot or by animal. Slowing down the pace of life allows us to focus on what really matters.
- Cherish God’s presence, not confine it. As I walked the streets of various villages in the Holy Land, I cherished God’s presence. You and I can’t limit or confine the Lord’s presence. He is with us in all places and at all times (Mt. 28:20). In the temple, in the marketplace, and in homes, many people experienced Jesus’ presence and watched Him change their lives. Life gets complicated and messy when we confine God’s presence.
Beginning on Sunday, May 8, I’ll launch a new sermon series entitled, “Footsteps in the Holy Land.” As a next step to our trip, and as an answer to prayer, I’m planning to lead a group to Israel next April. If you have an interest in the trip, please call or email Shannon or Lauren in the church office. We’ll add your name to the list. Being on the list doesn’t commit to you to the trip at this point.
I hope to see you Sunday morning. It’s a joy for me to welcome Dr. Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, to the pulpit this Sunday. It’s going to be a great Sunday!
Reaching the Nations Together,
1 Cor. 3:9